James Mason is an up and coming artist who is currently developing his own series based on the Five Deadly Venoms called Urban Shogun. Urban Shogun is an online comic that tells the tales of rival clans with each students style based on a different animal.
Notable Works: Urban Shogun
Tell us a little about yourself and your interest in the arts.
I’ve been drawing all my life. I stopped around college but I got back into it. My best friend has always been into it and we would always compete. It’s basically a learning experience. Each comic I’m just trying to get better.
What’s up with the Urban Shogun series?
The stage that I am at right now I am just trying to introduce everyone in short little segments. The big plan later on is to make it an actual printed comic and then I can just jump right into the story because everyone knows the back-story. It’s everything I love basketball, kung fu, and music all rolled into one.
How did you come up with the different characters in the Venom Clan?
Well actually, when I first started it I would base them on hiphop stars and then they would grow from there. Crane is obviously based on Lauryn Hill. Spider is kind of a mix between Allen Iverson and Dre’ from Outkast. They start with people I know or people I’ve seen and I just develop it from there. All of them are blends of a lot of people. Busta Rhymes is the beginning of Tiger based on the tattoos and the hair, then I make it how I want to see it. As the story goes on it will be revealed that his grandfather is Japanese and that will play into the story because that’s who he learned kung fu from. Jordan and Mary are half sisters. The main problem I run into is that I can write and draw but I don’t have the time to put it on paper. That’s the main reason why things are so short.
The background idea as far as being inspired by the ‘˜Five Deadly Venoms’ is similar to another artist we interviewed, Kagan Mcleod.
Yea when I was looking at his stuff I was all pissed off like he beat me to it but his interpretation is different. His is in the future and has zombies but it still has the same style. It’s kinda cool because our interpretations came out very differently. He has scorpion, spider, and a few others. If you’ve seen the movie its venomous animals like snake, toad, lizard, scorpion and centipede. They all have different powers based on that animal. Centipede has speed, Lizard can climb walls, Snake can move his hands similar to a snake and Toad was just super strong. The bad guys will be venomous animals but the good guys will be normal animals like Tiger, Crane, Cheetah and the next one I’m working on will be the Mantis. That will be dropping in about a month.
You know what you should do though is to have enemies with masks on but they’ll be shit like roach or a rat or something grimy. Roaches can survive atomic bombs so they could be indestructible. (*This is strictly Marcus – Ed.)
This is all in my head but there is the Venom Clan and the Dragon Clan. Scorpion and Tiger used to be buddies. They were bouncers. That back story will be included. They had a falling out and became enemies. Yellow Dragon is the leader of the Venom Clan. He is like the crime lord. The Venom Clan don’t worry about the normal rules of kung fu like self defense they just whoop people’s ass by any means necessary. The leader of the Dragon Clan is the Dragon Master and he’s the normal kung fu guy who doesn’t hit first. They have conflicting ideologies so naturally their students will be fighting as well. When I do the whole comic that’s when the students will fight each other and see which style is the best. There are gonna be like a few more clans but I haven’t planned it out yet.
I’m telling you that grimy shit man with roaches, rats, and mice and just be dirty and wear all black. (*That’s Marcus once again folks – Ed.)
Haha. I actually have this street ninja who’s panther style. I wrote it and he is drawing it. He ain’t grimy but he is a ninja. He is kind of a vigilante in the middle and you don’t know what he’s gonna do next. That will come out when my friend finishes.
What’s been the response to the shorts that you’ve put together?
It’s been good. It’s cool because with the internet I’m worldwide. I can check my hit counter and I can see Saudia Arabia and Russia. It’s crazy. I upload it from my basement and everyone can get it.
Have you approached any publishers with the idea?
Not yet. When I approach somebody, it will be a finished work. I don’t want to approach somebody with just ideas that I haven’t fully developed yet. When I approach somebody, it will be a finished four issue series. I’ve prepared myself that it will be a few years before anything will come out of it.
What does your wife think about the comic?
She likes it but it takes away from her. I’m in the garage drawing to the wee hours of the night.
At least she know where you at because you ain’t going nowhere at night in south Florida ya’ll got panthers and alligators and things running around.
They actually have a law that you can get exotic pets you just have to have a license. You can actually have a tiger here legally in your backyard you just need twenty-five feet.
What’s the strangest animal encounter you’ve had in Florida?
We were on the other side of Florida, fish is all over the place, and people were in the water with them. This other fish came to eat the little fish and the school of fish jumped out of the water and was hitting people. People were just screaming, it was crazy it was like wild kingdom or something.
What’s up with the music scene down there they still playing bass music?
Yea man and they don’t have censorship down here either.
I heard they be playing that Missy song ‘˜Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now’ unedited.
Yea, ‘˜Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now’ that’s nothing.
On that note, let’s get into the bullets section
You walking down the street and you see a chick and you just staring at her but her father don’t like the way you looking at her and he’s a warlock and he’s gonna put a spell on you and gives you a choice of either being impotent for five years or you gotta fight Mike Tyson every night for a week which would you choose?
I’ll go for Tyson.
Would you wear a shirt with camel piss all over it or a picture of Michael Jackson naked on it?
I’d have to go with the camel piss Chuck. I just won’t be next to anybody.
Would you wear a pair of silk, brown and purple polka dot pants or a pink fuzzy robe for two hours at the mall?
Pink Fuzzy robe, pimp style
Wheat or Rye?
Swiss or American cheese?
Skittles or yogurt for a snack?
Pancakes or Waffles?
Which kind of syrup Aunt Jemima or Mrs Butterworth?
If you were to clean your kitchen and bathroom do you prefer bleach or ammonia?
Is Ajax an option? If not Ammonia
You gotta come up with a comic character which would you choose Barbara Walters or Bryant Gumbel and what capabilities would you give them?
Bryant Gumbel but he would be a villain. He’d control things from behind the wall like Dr. Claw.